ARLINGTON, TX — The Texas Rangers and Orioles combined for 39 runs in the first two games of their four-game series at Globe Life Park, but the bats quieted considerably Saturday night.
Rangers starter Mike Minor toyed with the Orioles lineup and his teammates did just enough against Baltimore starter Dylan Bundy to move to the brink of a sweep with a 3-1 victory before an announced crowd of 24,300.
Minor (8-6) worked through the Orioles lineup efficiently, allowing just four hits in seven innings and needing just 86 pitches to do it. Bundy (7-10) also held the big-swinging Rangers (49-63) pretty much at bay, but he worked with runners on base in each of his six innings and didn’t have any margin for error.
“Another start that our starting pitcher deserved to win the game,” manager Buck Showalter said. “We’ve had a lot of those. That’s why I’ve been saying that the loss column for a starting pitcher is very deceiving, especially in a year like this. Dylan was really good.”
Bundy blinked in the fourth inning, giving up two runs on the only really damaging pitch he threw all night. Joey Gallo hit a sizzling line drive into the right-field bleachers for his 29th home run of the season.
It was a two-run shot that only cost Bundy one earned run, because Adrián Beltré had reached base to lead off the inning on a wild throw by Orioles third baseman Renato Núñez.
“Trying to go fastball up and in and it was fastball middle-middle,” Bundy said. “Ran back over the plate and he was able to get barrel on it.”
Gallo has been hammering Orioles pitchers throughout the series, homering in each of the first three games. On Thursday night, he also became the answer to the obscure trivia question, “Who is the only major league hitter to be struck out by Danny Valencia?”
Of course, Valencia came in to get the final Texas batter in the Rangers’ 17-8 blowout Thursday night. Gallo was called out on a pitch that appeared to be several inches out of the strike zone.
The Orioles managed just a pair of hits off Minor through the first six innings, but cut the Rangers’ lead in half in the seventh when Adam Jones delivered a one-out single to center and Mark Trumbo brought him home with a two-out single in the same direction.
It was Trumbo’s second hit of the game and the 1,000th of his major league career.
“That is pretty cool,’’ Trumbo said. “I actually like this one a little bit more than some of the other things I’ve done. Unfortunate that it didn’t contribute to a win tonight, but it’s pretty special to me.”
It was Bundy’s second solid performance in a row after allowing five earned runs and pitching five innings or fewer in three consecutive starts. He acknowledged the improvement, but was not happy with the outcome.
“No, I got the loss,” he said. “Not happy about it at all. But it was a little bit better. Only left one ball over the plate instead of three. … Just trying to execute pitches one pitch at a time.”
Left-hander Paul Fry came on in relief in the seventh inning and retired the side in order, but Rougned Odor greeted him in the eighth with a long home run to center field. Like Gallo, Odor also homered for the third straight game to tie a career high and continued to build on an impressive body of work in the series.
In 15 plate appearances, he has reached base 11 times, scored six runs and piled up eight RBIs.
When the series resumes Sunday afternoon, rookie Yefry Ramírez will take the mound for the Orioles (33-78) against veteran right-hander Drew Hutchison, whose signing was announced during Saturday’s game. Hutchison was released by the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Hutchison will be making his first major league start since Sept. 10, 2016.